Dentistry in Edinburgh

Today self has decided to write a really awesome post about Dentistry in Edinburgh.

That is because writer Jill Widner has just left a comment about the author of Mary Poppins, who seems to be in a kind of zone —  the Paris Review and The New York Times Book Review are quoting people who have something to say about P. L. Travers, the author of aforementioned classic work.  Self, never having read the book, now decides that she will read it.  So that she will stop remembering the scene where Julie Andrews in the movie version slides up the banisters.  And will instead think of the words of P. L. Travers.

And also, today, self is thinking of Hawthornden.  Over a month ago, as self was seated on the plane headed for Bacolod, she began to remember Hawthornden.  For some reason, when she returned from Europe in July, she just couldn’t seem to summon the energy or the will to process everything she had experienced there.  But on the plane to Bacolod, she suddenly began to remember specific conversations.  She remembered the dining room, the food, the cook, the housekeeper, the various gardeners, Hamish.  She remembered everything with great clarity, and it made her nostalgic.

So, this gray afternoon, self pokes through a humongous pile of unread mail, and pulls out a flyer she must have picked up in the Surgeons Museum in Edinburgh.  It is specifically about “dentistry in Edinburgh.”  Self never had time to read it before.  So, better late than never.

In the course of perusing the thing, self learns the following (Just a Note:  Some of what follows is extremely gross —  even, stomach-churning)

  • James IV of Scotland “was interested in all aspects of medicine and was known to have practiced dentistry on his subjects, paying them to extract their teeth!”
  • Before the 19th century, patients seeking the help of “a dental operator” would have their teeth extracted with instruments like “keys and forceps.”  (Self thinks back to a recent passage in Charles Cumming’s excellent thriller, Typhoon, which mentions political prisoners being tortured by having their toenails torn off.  She thinks it would be much more effective to resort to tooth extraction.  For instance, wasn’t there a movie in which Laurence Olivier played a malevolent dentist and tortured Dustin Hoffman by asking, repeatedly, “Is it safe?” while doing all kinds of dastardly things inside poor Dustin’s mouth?  Once again, self, you digress!)
  • “For thousands of years, humans have tried to improve the smile by replacing lost teeth.  Nearly 3000 years ago, the Etruscans, one of the world’s earliest civilisations, made dentures to replace lost teeth by wiring artificial teeth to neighbors.”  (On this page, there is actually an accompanying illustration of 3,000-year-old Etruscan bridge work.  Of course, since the teeth are no longer attached to a face, but are supported by some kind of yellowish pedestal, it is very hard to appreciate their aesthetic beauty.  But self can see gold wiring between the teeth and is sure whoever had this work done was very rich)

There is more, much more, but self has to get back to her writing!

Stay tuned.

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